A Collection Of 'Window Views' Takes On New Meaning During The Coronavirus Crisis
Windows are points of transition between two physical worlds. These days, they've taken on new significance for visual artists, who are using them as a way of expressing the emotions that come with life in lockdown.
Inspired by this renewed focus, "Window Views," a new online collection of photographs from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, explores the architectural feature and its symbolic and cultural meanings.
Windows "serve as barriers between the outside and inside, the public and private, the external and the internal, and dividers and thresholds between danger and safety," curator Shannon Perich told NPR. "Windows also control light, something photography is dependent upon."
Working from home, Perich assembled an initial collection of 79 images — more will be added — drawn from the museum's archive.
As Perich's work shifts online, important sensory aspects of curation are lost in the electronic process, she said.
"We are definitely missing the experience of seeing the physical photographs to understand scale, processes, paper texture, tones and colors, use, conditions and so on, which impacts how we understand and interpret the physical object," Perich said.
"Window Views" came about in response to a project by photographer and educator Rebekah Modrak called "Window Serenade." Modrak's assignment prompted visual artists to use windows as "sites of expression."
With the current coronavirus stay-at-home orders as backdrop, Perich decided to focus primarily on domestic and intimate spaces. Her initial hope was that a wide variety of images would inspire student photographers.
"Perhaps for others it might help them see their own windows and spaces differently," Perich said. "And if anyone simply finds some joy or satisfaction in one photograph, well, that's great, too."